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MANILA, Philippines – The prosecution panel in the plunder trial of former President Joseph Estrada has admitted that it has misplaced important case documents that are required by the Sandiganbayan Special Division for presentation in court.
Now missing are the Office of the Ombudsman’s copies of the February 2, 2001 order requiring accused Yolanda Ricaforte to file her comment on the allegations against her relative to the plunder complaint, and the copy of the April 4, 2001 Resolution that was supposedly served on her.
Both are crucial in proving the prosecution’s claim that Ricaforte was furnished copies of the Ombudsman’s rulings and orders in observance of due process in a preliminary investigation.
Ricaforte has a pending motion seeking the recall of an arrest warrant issued against her in 2001 after she was indicted for plunder along with Estrada.
She was accused of acting as bookkeeper of jueteng payola paid by gambling to the deposed leader.
Ricaforte has also sought a reinvestigation of the case on the ground that she was not accorded an opportunity to refute the allegations of her participation in helping Estrada amass ill-gotten wealth.
The Sandiganbayan, in a resolution issued last Nov. 28, 2011, ordered the prosecution to produce the said documents within even days from receipt of the directive or until Dec. 14, 2011.
Failing to meet the deadline, prosecutors explained they made a diligent search of the case records to no avail.
“The prosecution humbly begs the kind indulgence of the Honorable Court for its failure to submit its compliance as required in the aforesaid resolution. As to the proof of receipt by accused Ricaforte of the April 4, 2001 Ombudsman Joint Resolution, the prosecution panel insists that notwithstanding the absence of such proof, a copy of the said Resolution was sent to accused Ricaforte’s address at No.25, Freedom Avenue, Area I, Veterans Village, Brgy. Pasong Tamo, Quezon City,” prosecutors said.
The motion was signed by Deputy Special Prosecutors Robert E. Kallos and John I. C. Turalba, assistant Ombudsman Rolando B. Zoleta and assistant special prosecutors Pilarita T. Lapitan and Kristine Jennifer E. Carreon. – Rappler.com